Anxiety, Therapy Services

Types of Therapy For Anxiety

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Anxiety: 

For years, the go-to treatment for anxiety disorders was medication. But what if there was a way to train your brain to think differently about anxiety. That’s where cognitive behavioral therapy comes in. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of therapy that focuses on changing the way you think about anxiety. This, in turn, can change the way you feel and behave. CBT is different from other types of therapies because it is usually shorter-term and more focused on problem-solving. 

Types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

There are different types of CBT, but they all share the same goal: to change the way you think about anxiety. Some of the most common types of CBT are: 

Exposure therapy: This type of therapy helps you face your fears head-on. With exposure therapy, you’ll gradually work up to facing your fear in real life. For example, if you’re afraid of flying, exposure therapy might involve watching videos about flying, looking at pictures of airplanes, or even going to the airport and watching planes take off and land. 

Cognitive restructuring: This type of therapy helps you identify and challenge negative thinking patterns. Once you’re able to identify these patterns, you can start to change them.

Relaxation and stress management: This type of therapy teaches you how to relax your mind and body when you’re feeling anxious. Relaxation techniques might include deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). 

Biofeedback Therapy For Anxiety: 

Biofeedback therapy is a form of treatment that uses sensors to monitor your body’s physiological response to stressors. 

The aim of biofeedback therapy is to help you become more aware of your body’s natural stress response so that you can learn to control it. Biofeedback therapy has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Biofeedback therapy usually involves two different types of sensors: one to measure your heart rate and one to measure your skin conductance. The sensors are connected to a machine that displays your physiological data in real time. As you relax, you’ll see your heart rate slow down and your skin conductance decrease.

During the session, the therapist will guide you through a series of relaxation exercises. As you practice relaxing, you’ll begin to associate the physical sensations of relaxation with the exercises themselves. Over time, this will help you learn to control your body’s stress response so that you can manage your anxiety outside of the therapy sessions.

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Rapid Resolution Therapy For Anxiety:

Rapid resolution therapy (RRT) is a newer type of therapy that is designed to help you resolve the underlying issues that are causing your anxiety. While RRT is a brief treatment, usually lasting only 3-5 sessions, it has been shown to be very effective in treating anxiety disorders. 

The first step in RRT is to identify the core beliefs that are causing your anxiety. Once these beliefs have been identified, the therapist will work with you to challenge and reframe them. 

One of the key features of RRT is that it uses a number of techniques to help you resolve your anxiety. These techniques include cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). 

Occupational Therapy For Anxiety Disorders: 

Occupational therapy (OT) is a type of therapy that helps you learn new skills and find new ways to cope with your anxiety symptoms. OT can help you manage your anxiety by teaching you how to better handle stressful situations, how to relax, and how to take care of yourself both mentally and physically. 

For people with anxiety disorders, occupational therapy can help them learn how to manage their symptoms and participate in the activities they love without letting their anxiety take over. 

Here are a few ways that occupational therapy can help people with anxiety disorders:

1. Identifying Triggers

One of the first things an occupational therapist will do is help you identify what triggers your anxiety. Once you know what your triggers are, you can start to develop a plan for how to deal with them.

2. Developing Coping Skills

Another way that occupational therapists can help people with anxiety disorders is by teaching them coping skills. Coping skills are techniques that can help you manage your anxiety at the moment. Some common coping skills include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery. 

3. Practicing Relaxation Techniques

In addition to teaching you coping skills, your occupational therapist can also teach you relaxation techniques that can help reduce your overall anxiety levels. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, Tai Chi, and meditation can all be helpful in managing anxiety disorders. 

4. Improving Sleep Habits: If you have an anxiety disorder, chances are good that you also have trouble sleeping. This is because anxiety can cause racing thoughts and make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. An occupational therapist can work with you on developing better sleep habits and teach you relaxation techniques that can help you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

Anxiety: The Most Common Mental Illness In America

If you’re struggling with anxiety that feels out of your control, know that you’re not alone—anxiety disorders are very common. Thankfully there are many effective treatments available that can help you manage your symptoms and live a healthy, happy life. 

If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, talk to your doctor, a mental health professional, or give us a call at 301-363-1063 to get started on your road to recovery today.


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How Does Anxiety Affect The Brain?

Did you know that more than 40% of people in the United States alone suffer from some form of anxiety? As today's modern world only gets faster and faster, more people are starting to develop an anxiety disorder. No matter what type of anxiety one has, the condition can be debilitating in severe cases and it can make one's life thoroughly unenjoyable. 

But how does anxiety affect the brain exactly? Is an anxious person's brain all that different from a brain that doesn't suffer from anxiety? More than that, how does anxiety impact one's life as a result of changes in the brain and is there any way to treat this condition?

Outpatient anxiety therapy, Elkridge, Maryland, might be able to help. Keep reading and learn more about how anxiety affects the brain and how the condition can affect your way of life.

What Is Anxiety Exactly?

Anxiety comes in many different forms and each of those forms can vary in severity. For example, social anxiety is one of the most common forms of anxiety. It involves being afraid of people, talking to people, and otherwise interacting with people in any way. 

Since living a normal life requires interacting with people on a daily basis, you can imagine that this form of anxiety can be crippling, especially when the anxiety is severe. People with social anxiety not only have difficulty forming close relationships but some even have difficulty going outside and going out to public environments. 

Even going to the store to buy groceries can be a hard task for those with social anxiety. In some cases, a panic attack may result if a person with anxiety tries to go beyond his zone of comfort. A panic attack can include symptoms such as heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, sweating, chills, nausea, and chest pain. 

Some people who have panic attacks may mistake the symptoms for a heart attack.

Generalized Anxiety

Generalized anxiety is another type of anxiety that permeates a person's entire life, not just the person's social life. A person with generalized anxiety may be nervous about things even if there is no reason to be nervous. 

Being anxious without any reason to be anxious can be especially detrimental to a person's life. Every decision that a person tries to make is full of fear and uncertainty. As you can imagine, being in a constant state of fear is not healthy for the body or mind. 

That's because when you're anxious, your brain will release stress hormones. Normally, these hormones aim to help you get out of the occasional stressful situation. When someone is anxious for no reason, these stress hormones do more harm than good. 

Your Brain Is Overflowing with Stress Hormones

How can anxiety affect your brain? Stress hormones play a big part in the answer to that question. As mentioned before, stress hormones help us escape stressful and potentially dangerous situations. 

For example, thousands of years ago, humans had to defend themselves against wild animals such as bears. When you see a bear, you become anxious because you know that the bear could harm you.

As a natural response, your brain will produce stress hormones that will activate your fight or flight response. 

This response will help you to escape the danger in front of you one way or another. Specifically, these stress hormones (which are produced by the sympathetic nervous system) are called adrenaline and cortisol. They will fill you with energy that will increase the speed of your reflexes and increase your ability to sense certain things. 

The Details

In this scenario, once you escape danger (the bear), your stress hormones will dissipate and you will no longer feel fear or anxiety. Then, the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for resting and digesting will kick in so you can relax again. However, for some people, this fine balance of stress hormones isn't so easily controlled.

If you suffer from anxiety, something might trigger your anxiety and fear response but even after the trigger is gone, your brain will continue to produce stress hormones. Your brain will continue to get more and more stressed until you are overwhelmed with anxiety. This usually concludes with a panic attack, although some people can maintain high stress levels for weeks or months at a time.

This can also turn cases of mild anxiety into moderate or severe anxiety in a short time. But that isn't the only way anxiety affects the brain.

Difficulty Forming Rational Thoughts

People with anxiety often have a hard time forming rational thoughts. That's one of the many reasons why anxiety therapy, Elkridge, Maryland, is so important. When your brain is overwhelmed with stress hormones, you won't be able to think clearly. 

That's because the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, two very important regions in the brain, won't be as strongly connected as they usually are. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for allowing us to come up with rational thoughts and make good decisions. On the other hand, the amygdala is responsible for telling the rest of the brain that there is danger afoot. 

In the case of anxiety, the amygdala will tell the brain that there is danger present even if there isn't any real danger to think of. Normally, the prefrontal cortex would come up with a rational decision for how to avoid the danger. However, in anxious brains, this process doesn't work as well.

The Anxious Brain

Instead, an anxious brain will not be able to activate the prefrontal cortex as usual. As a result, the brain will not be able to come up with rational decisions when it comes to reacting to the perceived threat. That's why people with anxiety may have thoughts that are not rational and may sometimes behave in irrational ways. 

For example, a person with social anxiety may be terrified to go to the grocery store. There is no real reason to be afraid of going to the store, but the anxious brain creates irrational thoughts. The socially anxious person may be afraid to talk to the cashier upon checking out or afraid to say hello to anyone. 

Even though there is no danger present, the person may be so anxious that he may refuse to go to the store. 

Anxiety Causes You to Remember More Negative Memories

Many people with anxiety find that they are able to mostly remember negative memories rather than positive ones. This is no coincidence and therapy for anxiety, Elkridge, MD, will be able to teach you more about it. Anxiety can strongly affect the hippocampus. 

The hippocampus is a structure in the brain responsible for forming, recalling, and consolidating memories. It is especially important for long-term and contextual memory. Without it, you wouldn't be able to process memories and store them in your brain to remember for years to come.

When you are often stressed, this stress will actually start to shrink the hippocampus. As this brain structure shrinks, it will become less effective at processing memories and storing them for later as it usually does. But that still doesn't explain why anxious people remember more negative rather than positive memories. 

The Hippocampus and Anxiety

Shouldn't anxious people have fewer negative and positive memories as the hippocampus shrinks? Not necessarily. Anxiety affects the hippocampus so that this brain structure stores only memories that are linked to anxiety. 

Anxious memories are regarded as "safe" to store and therefore make it to your brain's long-term memory. In contrast, positive memories are those that are not linked to anxiety. For that reason, your anxiety will tell the hippocampus that these memories are not safe for storage. 

The result is that you will be able to recall more negative memories than positive memories. This does not necessarily mean that you didn't remember those positive memories. However, it is harder to recall them. 

Of course, forgetting your positive memories in favor of negative memories is no fun. That's why having your anxiety treated is important. That way, you will be on your way to having a happier and healthier brain.

How Does Anxiety Affect the Brain?

How does anxiety affect the brain? This mental disorder changes the brain in a variety of ways including how the brain processes memory and forms rational thoughts. Anxiety causes the brain to flood with stress hormones. 

As a result, a person with anxiety is unable to relax even if there isn't anything to be anxious about. Constant anxiety can actually cause structural changes to the brain such as shrinkage of the hippocampus. To learn more about outpatient treatment, don't hesitate to contact us here.

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What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress and fear. It kicks the body’s fight or flight response into gear and can be characterized by feelings of nervousness or apprehension. While anxiety may have served to protect our ancestors from dangers (such as predators) people today tend to experience anxiety when giving speeches or going to a job interview. Anxiety is a very natural feeling, but anyone who experiences this emotion at extreme levels may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can be treated with medicine, therapy, and other coping mechanisms.  

Why Do People Develop Anxiety? 

It is not currently known why certain people develop anxiety over others. It is believed that the combination of genetics, biology, and environment can be potential triggers. Those with certain personality traits (for example, perfectionism or being an introvert), have experienced traumatic events, have a family history of mental health issues, or have been diagnosed with some physical conditions can be more at risk. 

The research suggests that women tend to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders more often than men. Twice as much, as a matter of fact. Although it is important to recognize that this research also reflects the frequency in which women report experiencing anxiety and seeking treatment versus men reporting on the same information.  This can possibly be attributed to issues like social stigmas against men with mental health problems.  

Symptoms of Anxiety 

There are multiple symptoms of anxiety, and many people may experience a wide variety of these symptoms. Some of the common signs and symptoms include: 

  • Anxious thoughts or beliefs that take over and seem to be all-consuming. Once these thoughts intrude your mind, they are hard to control and can make you feel like you are spiraling. Anxious thoughts can easily distract you from everyday activities and prevent you from falling asleep and/or staying asleep.  
  • Physical symptoms of anxiety like pounding of the heart, sweating, tremors, headaches, and fatigue. It can also cause an upset stomach, frequent urination, and diarrhea. Multiple physical symptoms can occur at once and they can develop at any point. 
  • Anxiety can also affect your mood and cause irritability or low energy. Depression oftentimes is a comorbid condition with high levels of anxiety or anxiety disorders, meaning they can present in an individual simultaneously.   
  • Anxiety Attacks are another common problem that many people have when they are battling this condition. Anxiety attacks can be very scary, and can present themselves with any trigger. Those who deal with these attacks can have varying symptoms and they can change over time. Oftentimes there will be shortness of breath, dizziness, dry mouth, sweating, distress, restlessness, and fear.  

Anxiety Disorders 

Usually, an anxiety disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences symptoms on a regular basis and to the point that their daily life is disrupted. An anxiety disorder can interfere with daily aspects such as school, work, and relationships. A diagnosis will follow a physical exam and a psychological evaluation, generally by a mental healthcare professional. 

The different disorders, as classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), are: 

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This disorder will be diagnosed after a person has been experiencing symptoms most days for at least 6 months. People can feel extreme anxiety in a number of situations, like work, school, social outings, etc. It is termed ‘generalized’ because it does not have to be anything specific that causes it like with other disorders. 
  • Panic Disorder: Anyone struggling with panic disorder deals with repeated panic attacks that can become very intense very quickly. They can seem to come out of nowhere or be caused by a specific trigger. When someone is having a panic attack, they can literally feel like they are dying and the fear of future attacks can influence their behavior.    
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia): As the term suggests, having social anxiety causes the fear of social situations. People may believe that the way they behave will be viewed negatively. Performance anxiety also falls under social phobia and people will be afraid of doing things like giving speeches.  
  • Specific Phobia: This is a disorder where a person has a fear of a specific object or situation. People can have fears of just about anything, such as spiders, heights, clowns, and much more. These fears are typically irrational and there is no actual danger. 
  • Agoraphobia: Those with agoraphobia have a major fear of places or situations where they might feel trapped. They will feel serious dread towards having a panic attack or something embarrassing happening and they cannot easily escape from it. Unfortunately, many people can become so crippled by this anxiety that they start to avoid going out.  
  • Selective Mutism: Not as commonly seen as some of the other disorders. Selective mutism occurs in children 5 years or younger, despite having the ability to speak. People who have selective mutism tend to be shy and do not like social situations and they are often diagnosed with other anxiety disorders.  
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: Typically seen in children, but can also occur in adults. With this disorder, people form attachments to others at an inappropriate level and are afraid of being separated from them. There is a constant worry that something bad will happen to their attachments, so they are reluctant to leave them.   

Anxiety Medications 

There are a number of anti-anxiety medications that are currently offered by mental health professionals. Pharmaceuticals can be used to treat just anxiety or depression by themselves or they can treat them together. When taking anxiety medication, it is generally recommended that you avoid alcohol, as the mixture can cause a bad reaction. Anxiety medications can be classified as: 

  • Buspirone: This is an anxiety medicine that regulates mood and treats both short-term and chronic anxiety. The brand name drug is Buspar. 
  • Benzodiazepines: These are sedatives that calm the mind and the body. They can be prescribed in situations like when someone has really bad anxiety about flying. They also treat multiple disorders, such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety. Some of the most well-known benzodiazepines are Valium, Xanax, and Ativan.  
  • Antidepressants: This category of pharmaceuticals works by influencing neurotransmitters and can be used to treat anxiety, alongside depression. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) specifically target serotonin levels and include Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) are another group of antidepressants and are used for panic disorder and social phobia. 

Prescription medications should not be considered a cure and are typically only used to manage anxiety. The usual course of treatment is a combination of therapy and medication. Although not every medication will work for you and your doctor it is recommended to seek out therapy alongside taking medication. Not every medication will work for you and your doctor may put you on different ones to find the one that is right for you. 

Counseling for Anxiety 

A counselor will teach you about different coping mechanisms that you can apply when you start to feel any symptoms of anxiety. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is the most popular type of therapy to treat anxiety. It is a form of psychotherapy that combines key aspects of behavior therapy and cognitive therapy. It is designed to retrain your brain and way of thinking in response to anxiety. When you have an understanding of those thought patterns that trigger anxiety then you are better able to change them and have less of a chance of experiencing it.  

Counselors will also encourage behavioral changes with behaviors that may heighten your anxiety. With this therapy, people may need to start to expose themselves more to the things that trigger their anxieties in order to teach themselves that there is no danger and nothing to fear. This will help those with fears of certain situations, like riding in an elevator.  

Overcoming anxiety takes time and practice at implementing those coping mechanisms. It’s like growing and strengthening a muscle at the gym. You have to recognize the signs and triggers of anxiety in order to break the volatile cycle. When you’re able to recognize these small “tells” you can begin fighting the anxiety that tries to consume you. 

Other Anti-Anxiety Treatments 

Other treatments for anxiety can include natural methods, such as practicing yoga, meditation, and exercise. Often it takes a combination of medication, therapy, and natural methods for someone to be able to manage their anxiety. By practicing mental exercises, such as meditation, you learn to train your mind to focus more on one thought at a time and to be more intentional, not giving in to the stressful or negative thoughts. Yoga or other low-intensity workouts are also great for calming the mind and body and learning how to focus on the breath.  

Physical exercise is not only excellent for the body but the mind as well. Getting your body into motion allows you to clear your mind to an extent and induces the brain to accelerate new neuron growth. Specifically, aerobic exercise, like swimming, running, cycling, dancing, etc. can improve your mood and reduce anxiety. There is a wealth of research to support the way exercise can increase cognitive function and lead to benefits such as improved sleep and lower stress levels.   

It can also help to reduce caffeine intake, as caffeine is known to worsen anxiety. A healthy diet and stress management techniques are other ways that aid in lowering anxiety levels. Of course, these are not a substitute for therapy and medication but should be done alongside them to improve your lifestyle, which makes a difference. 

Want to Get Help for Anxiety? 

If you are interested in seeking help for any anxiety you may be experiencing then reach out to Gemini Health for the appropriate treatment. Our healthcare professionals are highly skilled and experienced to provide you with quality health services. They offer both individual and group therapy, as well as access to psychiatrists for all patients. Plus there are no wait times to join groups. Call (301) 363-1063 and speak to our staff to schedule your appointment today! 

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